Minorities in cartoons: White Tiger

This week’s entry is White Tiger, a Marvel superhero identity that’s been used for several characters. However, all have similar abilities: some variation of being a master of hand-to-hand combat/martial arts, plus some superhuman abilities.

Another common trait is that all of the White Tigers have been non-Caucasian. There’s been five White Tigers to date, three of them female, two male.

Hector Ayala

Hector Ayala, the original White Tiger, first appeared in “Deadly Hands of Kung-Fu” #19 in 1975. Created by Bill Mantlo and George Perez, Hector is Marvel’s first Latino superhero character. (Perez, like Hector, is also from Puerto Rico.) Hector came along during the height of the 70s martial arts craze. Thus, his superhero identity was themed along such lines.

By donning a mystical “Jade Tiger” amulet, Hector gains enhanced strength, stamina, and agility, plus expert martial arts skills.

Hector appeared in Marvel stories for decades. He was eventually killed during a storyline in which he was falsely accused of murder.

White Tiger (Heroes For Hire)

The second White Tiger was, like Captain Marvel’s Mr. Tawky Tawny, an actual white tiger. She was evolved into a human form (of Indian descent) by the High Evolutionary (a powerful character with vast near-godlike abilities) for his own ends.

Joining Heroes for Hire (what its name says), White Tiger used martial arts abilities and her own tiger-like abilities. Eventually, she was turned back into a normal tiger.

Kasper Cole

Kevin “Kasper” Cole was introduced in “Black Panther” (volume 3) #50 in 2002. He’s a New York police officer of Jewish/African-American heritage. Kasper was nicknamed such due to his light skin complexion, after Casper the Friendly Ghost.

Kasper imitated Black Panther at one point after finding his costume. Later, Kasper gained the actual abilities of Black Panther, and renamed himself “White Tiger.”

Kasper’s abilities include enhanced/peak human strength, stamina, and agility, plus night vision.

Angela Del Toro

Angela was introduced in “Daredevil” (volume 2) #51 in 2003. The niece of Hector above, Angela grew up to become a highly skilled FBI agent. After Hector’s death, Angela inherited the Jade Tiger amulet. After initial training in its use by Daredevil (and thwarting a robbery), Angela decided to become the newest White Tiger.

Angela’s superpowered abilities were similar to Hector’s, though she also possessed the skills she’d gained through FBI training.

Angela later fell victim to the control of a supervillain group. Marvel gave Angela her own miniseries in the mid-2000s (written by Tamora Pierce).

Ava Ayala

The latest White Tiger, Ava is the teenage sister of Hector. She’s thus presumably Angela’s aunt, despite the age difference. Originally created for the “Ultimate Spider-Man” TV series, Ava was (before that show’s April 2012 debut) introduced into the comics in late 2011. Ava’s debut showed her as a student enrolled in Avengers Academy, a training school for young heroes run by the Avengers.

Ava’s quite proud of her Latino and superhero heritage. The former led to some conflicts with fellow classmate Reptil, another Latino character.

As the White Tiger, Ava possesses her brother’s amulet, giving her similar abilities.

While Ava’s had a very short career so far in comics, she’s become the most prominent White Tiger out of the five. This is by virtue of being used in the “Ultimate Spider-Man” TV series. There, she’s shown so far to be enthusiastic about being trained by SHIELD. She works hard at excelling at whatever she does, including schoolwork. Ava also (so far) seems prone to some sarcasm, especially about the reckless behavior of her teammates. While I’ve only seen a few episodes, Ava was one of the more entertaining characters in the series.

(Updated 10/26/16)

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